Upraise The Dragon

“Qi long” (translated to “upraise the dragon”) is a traditional ceremony during which people dig out the former-buried dragon boat from the river. It’s a symbol to mark the commencing of “Dragon Boat Month” (from April 8 to May 30 of the Chinese Lunar calendar). However, it almost vanished due to the changing of dragon boat material.

In the Qing Dynasty, dragon boats were made from solid and durable wood sourced from Pontianak. Later, the material was changed to pine because of the scarceness and costliness of Pontianak wood. Along with China’s Reform and Opening Policy, the forbidden dragon boat race resumed. Therefore, Zheng Ya villagers from Wanjiang made a dragon boat for the race, crafted in 1984 with pine, a material which is weighty and maintains its shine even after some time. Each year until 2002, this dragon boat was embedded in the riverside at the end of dragon boat month, to prevent it from being damaged by snakes, rats or insects. Bamboo sticks were inserted at the side and an old fishing net was hung over to remind boatmen not to stop there.

However, the contemporary dragon boat race system is speed-oriented, hence dragon boats are now mostly made by fir wood, which is weightless and non-flooding. The official pine dragon boat was dug out in 2017 after its last burying in 2002, to protect the traditional legacy, just like in 2018 and also this year.